Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jan 28 14:51:43 UTC 2008

At 8:57 AM -0500 1/28/08, Wilson Gray wrote:
>"_Pre tell_ why was Georgia the ONLY state that went even more
>Republican in 2006?"
>3140 raw - e.g., also includes the meaning "preliminary indicator or
>indication," combining standard pre- with gambling technical term,
>"tell," and usually spelled "pre-tell" - hits
Interesting.  Of course we can't know without counting how many of
these are in fact compositional (with the second meaning, which is a
little redundant in itself since a "pre-tell" would essentially
amount to a "tell" in e.g. poker).  There are also 21,200 raw hits
for "prey tell" (most of which appear to result from genuine
confusion or reanalysis), which indicates that the curious
quasi-serial-verb nature of "pray tell" gives many hearers pause.  Or

(As for "prey" vs. "pray", I was never sure which of "praying mantis"
and "preying mantis" is the original and which the folk etymology,
since both make a kind of sense.  The Latin name, _Mantis religiosa_,
indicates that the former came first.)


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